There hasn’t been a lot of talk about workplace relations in the lead up to the federal election and it hasn’t really been put forward as an election issue. However, if you look at the workplace relations/employment policies on the ALP website, there are some big changes in the wings.
Even if the ALP is not successful in obtaining a majority in the House of Representatives in its own right, there are plenty of worker friendly partners in both Houses of Parliament for them to get their legislation through.
So what do they have in mind?
The central themes are around security of employment, equal pay and security of worker’s legal entitlements.
Specific changes proposed include the following:
- Inclusion of job security as an Object of the Fair Work Act so that the Fair Work Commission would have to consider job security in all of its decision making
- Extending the powers of the Fair Work Commission to make orders for minimum standards for new forms of work such as gig workers.
- Restoring the common law definition of a casual worker to undo recent Court decisions that placed primacy on the employment contract entered into at the start of an employment relationship rather than the character of the employment relationship during the relationship.
- Introducing a requirement for employees engaged through labour hire to be paid the same as workers directly engaged by the host to do the same work.
- Limiting the use of fixed term contracts for the same job to a maximum of 2 back to back contracts for a maximum aggregate term of 2 years.
- Including superannuation as a National Employment Standard so that workers’ superannuation entitlements are better protected and can be pursued as a workplace right if underpayment occurs.
- Making wage theft a crime but not overriding current legislation in States of Territories (it is currently a crime in Victoria).
- Consulting on the development (where practical) of portable entitlement schemes for Australians in insecure work.
- Legislating 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave for full-time employees (pro rata for part-time employees) extending the recent decision by the Fair Work Commission to award-free employees.
- Legislating to require employers with 250 or more employees to publicly report on their gender pay gap and to abolish pay secrecy clauses and implementing all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work Report
- Strengthening the ability of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female dominated industries.
- Reforming employment practices in the federal public service by only using non-permanent employment where it is essential and reducing the incidence of labour hire, outsourcing and back to back contracts.
- Introduction of a Secure Australian Jobs Code as a criteria for performing government funded work and government procurement.
- As expected, Labor will abolish the Registered Organisations Commission and the Australian Building and Construction Commission which were both primarily established to regulate unions and penalise unlawful behaviour by unions and officials.
So there is a lot in all of this and there are major structural and commercial implications for businesses in a number of areas. In the months ahead, we will unpack these policies in more detail and keep you posted on developments.
Any questions can be addressed to us on 0438 533 311 or at firstname.lastname@example.org